Sunday, December 27, 2015

How to Not Euthanize a Cat on Social Security

I had a horrible "adventure" last night. It truly sucks to be old and broke in this country. My neighbor asked me to drive her to the emergency vet. It's the end of the month, so of course she had no money, and when we got there the cat was already cold and barely breathing. I had to double-check that she was still alive when I got her out of the car.

Of course “Jane” was in denial that Kitty was that far gone. They wanted $109 for the doc to even look at the cat. Any tests or treatment would be more. I already knew there would be no treatment. Jane wanted to hear that from the doc, and kept trying to get them to take a post-dated check. She finally asked if they could keep Kitty overnight so she could pawn some jewelry to pay the bill. They said that would cost $500, plus the $109, and $250 for blood tests plus more for whatever other tests they might need to do, and the cat's body temp and heartbeat were both going down. They said they'd put the cat down for free, but of course it would cost money to have them dispose of the body.

At that point I told Jane that when I was a medic and when I volunteer to sit with dying patients they get cold and their heartbeat slows at the end, and I that I thought the cat was dead in the car. I told her I didn't think she should put Kitty through any tests and I thought the best thing to do would be to just put her down. Then I called my daughter and asked if they would bury the cat in their yard, because we're not allowed to bury cats here. My daughter agreed. Jane finally agreed to let them euthanize the cat and take her to my daughter's. I said we'd put her in the recycling bin and put a stone on top to keep the critters out until the kids get home, because they’re out of town right now. Elizabeth also said Jane can come by and visit the grave.

The vets said they had some papers for us to sign before they put her down and left us alone with Kitty. They were gone so long, Kitty died in Jane's arms. I put her on the table and listened to her chest but didn't hear anything. Then I asked someone with a stethoscope if they could hear anything. The person who came in must have been the vet, because they tried to charge us $109. At which point, I went off. I yelled, "The f***ing cat died in our arms and you people did nothing for us! We don't owe you a thing!" Then we marched out of there—and I left my purse and had to go back for it.

So, Kitty is now in my daughter's recycling bin, in a bag one uses to bring frozen food home from the store. I suspect my neighbor would have pawned every piece of jewelry she owned if anyone else had driven her to the vet last night, and the poor kitty would have been dead when she got back there this morning. At the very least, she probably would have ended up pawning her jewelry to pay $109 for the doc to say, "Yup, she's gone," plus The Goddess knows how much more to have the poor baby cremated. I'm so glad I was able to be there for her, even if I did lose it at the end.

A few years ago when my cat, Titania died, I ran into the same thing, but I let my fingers do the walking. I was planning to take her downstate to our vet near Rantoul, but she didn’t make it to the third when my Social Security came in, either. I couldn’t find a place that would dispose of her without charging at least $100 to walk in the door and have a doc say, “Yup, she’s gone.”

That was the night I met the young man who is now my son-in-law. It was right after we had the Valentine’s Day blizzard—the ground was frozen and there was three feet of snow with drifts over six feet in places. Elizabeth called Marshall to help us. He ended up putting Ti in a dumpster on the other side of the Volo Auto Museum where we lived at the time. I wasn’t supposed to know that’s what he did with her, but there was nothing else he could do. We couldn’t exactly keep her until the ground thawed.

Thank the cat goddess Bast it’s been unseasonably warm here, and the ground isn’t frozen as it would normally be right now. Marshall can bury Kitty.

RIP, Kitty. Give Titania my love.

(I have no photos, as I have not asked "Jane" if it's okay to post this)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cowboy Dreamin’ by Starla Kaye

Starla Kaye wears many hats professionally and as a writer. She is the community coordinator for a Midwestern accounting firm, a gerontologist who volunteers with an active group of senior adults, a mentor/teacher of writing, and a multi-published author.

She has been writing and publishing in different romance sub-genres and lengths for twenty years. Her first published book, Tug of Love, was a “sweet” romance published with iUniverse. Now she mainly writes edgier romances with an erotic or slightly naughty focus.

Starla enjoys writing about strong-willed, independent women who butt heads with equally determined, self-confident, and slightly domineering men. Her belief in relation to her heroes is to find them their perfect match, but make him really work for the happily-for-now or happily-ever-after with the woman who wins his heart. Of course, she likes her heroines to be challenged as well. Love isn't easy.

To date she has published twenty novels, thirty-eight novellas, eight anthologies, three audio books, and eighteen short stories. Starla writes for Decadent Publishing, Black Velvet Seductions, and Blushing Books.

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Book Title: Cowboy Dreamin’
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Dates Published:
E-Book: February 11, 2014
Audio Book: October 26, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, GLBT, Gay Romance, Ménage, Western Romance
Heat Rating: R+
Page Count: 66


ISBN: 9781613336618
BN ID: 2940148326496


Kendra spends her days and nights running a business, sculpting, and leading a Tahitian dance group in Kauai. She can’t squeeze anything else into her life, but she dreams of cowboys. Sexy, hot cowboys in tight jeans, low-tipped Stetsons, and dusty boots. Men who know all about how to please a woman. She enjoys her fantasies, but can’t imagine ever settling down. But one night with one would be so nice. Surely that would get her dreams of a white knight cowboy sweeping her off her feet out of her system.

Because of an accident that Shane believes left him “less of a man,” he doesn’t see a wife and children in his future. Carson, his ranching partner—and sometimes lover—thinks Shane is wrong. Carson refuses to let Shane settle for a life of rodeo bunnies who only want a romp in bed with a bull rider. Shane deserves more than that. He manages to sign Shane up with a matchmaking service to, hopefully, meet another kind of woman, maybe someone who will appreciate Shane for the man he is. Except Madame Evangeline expects both of the cowboys to go on this special one night date. It doesn’t take long for either cowboy to realize that one night with the purple-haired, hip-shaking beauty in Kauai might not be enough.


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“I can’t do this!” Kendra moaned and glared at Alexis in the dressing room mirror. She had one boob in a coconut cup and one boob that refused to go in the other bra cup. “I can’t!”

Alexis walked over and calmly pushed Kendra’s hands out of the way. She lifted the problem coconut shell cup and gently guided the uncooperative breast into place. “Situation resolved.”

Tears threatened and Kendra’s stomach churned. “That was only part of what’s wrong.”

She’d been stressed ever since learning about this arranged meeting between her and the two cowboys from Kansas. She’d been dreaming about a fantasy, sexy cowboy for so long. But two at the same time? What if neither of them met her visualization? Would she be soured on all cowboys? Would her fantasies be ruined forever? She didn’t have time in her harried life for more than the occasional fantasy. She needed it.

She exhaled deeply, wincing at the slight movement of the rough shells over her tender breasts. She still hadn’t gotten around to replacing the felt lining and she would pay for that negligence today. “My fantasies are all I have. If this goes wrong…. If they are—”

“This could be far better than those dreams of yours,” Alexis chastised with a frown. “It’s two cowboys.”

Kendra paced away and fluffed out her skirt. “Could be being keywords.”

A tear trickled down her cheek and she dashed it ruthlessly away. Then her shoulders slumped and she mumbled miserably, “I should never have agreed to any of this.” She glowered at Alexis. “You pushed me into it, all of it. Agreeing to spend some kind of night with two cowboys is bad enough. But you accepted this dance show without discussing it with me. And they are supposed to meet me here.”

She paced across the small room again, fluffing the sides of her grass skirt again. “First impressions are a big deal, you know. And here I’ll be shimmying my ass around wearing a pink skirt made of fake grass and bouncing my boobs in a really dumb coconut shell bra.”

To her disgust, Alexis laughed. “They’ll think themselves the luckiest cowboys in the world.”

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Forging Day: Crucible of Change Series, Book One by Noelle Alladania Meade


Global apocalypse never felt so good.

Olivia almost has the perfect life. She almost has a job. She almost has a boyfriend. She almost has a future.

It’s a good thing she has friends.

On a sunny day in June, the entire world steps sideways into a new reality—out of this chaos, almost a third of the human population find themselves transformed into Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, and Trolls. Olivia is now a Dark Elf mage, and her new girlfriend is one sexy kitty.

With magic, however, come monsters and things that draw blood in the night—and now a werewolf is carving a path of pain and terror through the park next to Olivia’s home. The old Olivia would have been hiding under her sister’s bed.

The new Olivia is going hunting.

Adversity is the forge of the soul. For Olivia, today is Forging Day.

Character Interview: Olivia

RIW:      What's your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?
O:   Before the Change I kind of drifted. I made bad choices in college getting my art degree. After college, I never had a real job and I lived with friends.

When the Change happened and I became a Dark Elf mage, I found my purpose: Might for right. Suffer no guilt. What did I do today to make the world a better place? Someone described me as a trouble magnet. No matter what I do, adventure seems to find me.

RIW:      Can you tell us about your hero/ine?
O:   My sister, Cordelia, is my hero. When our parents passed away, she put aside her own dreams and raised me and Leo, and trust me, it was not an easy job.

RIW:      What problems do you have to face and overcome in your life?
O:   I’ve had to learn that I have value as a person and that I don’t have to do things that make me feel bad just to make people like me. When something doesn’t feel right, I’m learning to speak up.

RIW:      Do you expect your hero/ine to help or is s/he the problem?
O:   My sister helps just by being my sister. I don’t expect her to solve my problems. It’s enough that she’s there, and she loves me.

RIW:      Bubble baths or steamy showers? Ocean or mountains? Puppies or kittens? Chocolate or caramel?
O:   Why choose? Life offers so many pleasures. I’ve never limited myself to just one choice. The important thing is who you enjoy things with.

RIW:      What is your secret guilty pleasure?
O:   Letting the nanny take care of the kids and having a decadent evening with my husband, Frank and wife, Yuri.

RIW:      Cherries or Bananas? Leather or lace? Black or red? Mud Bath or Oily Massage?
O:   Cherries. Leather. Black. Massage.

RIW:      If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
O:   Don’t mess with my loved ones. I will destroy you.

RIW:      Satin sheets or Egyptian cotton?
O:   Egyptian cotton

RIW:      Party life or quiet dinner for two?
O:   Quiet dinner for three.

RIW:      That’s all the questions we have for you. Thank you for speaking to us.
O:   Thanks for speaking with me. I enjoyed it.

Author Interview: Noelle

RIW:      What kind of research do you do for a book?
NAM:     The Crucible of Change series, starting with Forging Day, is set on an alternate version of Earth and slightly in the future. I use Google maps to explore specific locations. A lot of the action in Forging Day is around Cheesman Park in Denver, so I read online history about the park, printed maps so I could mark specific locations and researched housing in the area. Book Five of the series in set in the Amazon rainforest. For that I ordered a map and travel guide to begin with. I read blogs about trips to the area and researched tourist activities and locations. My companion novella to Forging Day is from the perspective of the military unit my main character’s brother serves with. Part of my research for that was speaking with people from work who had been in the military to get their perspective. It was quite educational.

RIW:      Tell us about your latest book. What motivated the story? Where did the idea come from?
NAM:     Forging Day is the first book in the Crucible of Change series. My main character, Olivia, and her brother and sister have been in my head for over fifteen years. Olivia was my character in a Dungeons and Dragons group I used to game with before I had my daughter. I guess Olivia wanted more of her story to be told. The story, as with all of my stories, starts with the question, “What if…?” I like exploring the idea of taking ordinary people and throwing them into an extraordinary situation.

Olivia is a twenty five year old woman who is struggling with finding her place in the world. An event happens that unleashes a Change across the world. About one third of the population becomes other than human and magic becomes very real. In Forging Day, Olivia starts out a victim and becomes a hero, but not without earning a few scars along the way.

RIW:      Do you feel humor is important in fiction and why?
NAM:     Humor is essential to my writing. There are some very dark points in Olivia’s story and it needs her slightly off-beat sense of humor to lighten it up. In this excerpt, Olivia is recovering from her first (and nearly her last) combat experience after the Change.

“Not that I mind getting my arm fixed and not bleeding to death, but why didn’t you use the glowy-light thing like you did on Mikah? My arm is killing me and I’m completely useless like this.”

He looked troubled. “I tried. I don’t know why it wouldn’t work. I couldn’t get it to work with Mike either. And why didn’t you shoot those little balls of light like you did before?”

“I forgot. I panicked and I forgot.” We both sat there, looking glum. “Oh my god, Berto. We’re noobs. We’re not even first level adventurers. We’re those idiots trying to figure out the tutorial—and I always skip the tutorial.”

“We’d better not skip this one. Our lives might just depend on it.”

“Somehow, when I dreamed about becoming a fantasy adventurer, I was always a max-level character with epic gear. Look at me. I’m wearing vendor trash.”

RIW:      Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
NAM:     A full length book takes me two to three months from when I begin the research. I wrote my last novella (about 30k words) in twenty days. Last year I did NaNoWriMo and finished in about three weeks. On the other hand, I have a book I’ve been pondering for a while that I write snippets for. It’s been in the back of my head for a few years now. I guess I’m just not ready to write it. It’s going to be called Princess of LaLa Land and will be about my experience of raising a daughter with autism.

RIW:      How do you come up with story ideas?
NAM:     I’m always coming up with story ideas. I need to beat them off with a stick. Here’s an example: watching Survivor the other night, I thought what if Lord of the Flies was done Survivor style with the confessional interviews interspersed. I saw an odd looking car and driver on the way home from work one night and I imagined the rough outlines of a murder mystery. I don’t know how not to come up with story ideas. They just happen.

RIW:      Do you ever ask your Significant Other for advice?
NAM:     My husband is my best supporter. He is also a writer. We commute to work together since we work in the same building. Our drive each day is our own little writers group. We talk about our ideas and brainstorm together. I have been known to ask for his input on my stories. What I’ve learned when he offers advice is to think about whether his suggestion will benefit my story before I respond when sometimes my contrarian instinct is to reject it right off.

RIW:      How many books have you written, and how many have been published?
NAM:     I have written five books and one novella in the Crucible of Change series. Forging Day is the only one currently in stores but the others are under contract. I have a chick lit story under contract and a spicy short story coming out October 16th called Trick or Treat.

RIW:      List two authors we would find you reading when taking a break from your own writing.
NAM:     I love the Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold. I reread them regularly. I have all of them in print and also as eBooks.

My other go to series are the three Crystal Singer books by Anne McCaffrey. I really enjoy the progression of the characters. I wish there were more. These I also have in print and then repurchased them as eBooks.

RIW:      What is the single most important part of writing for you?
NAM:     It’s critical to me that my characters feel real and relatable. You may not like them, but I want you to feel that the character, even if he or she is not human, is acting and reacting in a realistic fashion. With Olivia, my main character in the Crucible of Change series, it was important to me that she not come across as perfect and a know-it-all. She has vulnerabilities. She needs her friends and family. If she gets into a battle, there’s every chance she’ll get hurt. Olivia makes mistakes. Sometimes she has bad judgment. In the end, her heart is always in the right place.

RIW:      What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
NAM:     I want readers to come away from my work with a feeling that different doesn’t mean wrong. Judge a person by how they treat others; their actions and not preconceived notions of race, religion or sexual orientation. More importantly, I hope they come away entertained and wanting more.

RIW:      Thanks so much for joining us today, Noelle. By the way, I love the Vorkosigan series, too. I met Lois at MarCon, a sci-fi con in Columbus, Ohio. Someone asked her what to do when you bog down in the middle of a book. She said, “I ask myself, ‘What’s the worst that can happen to these people?’ and then I write it.” That bit of advice has helped me so much!

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