Monday, July 28, 2008

Dog Search Continues

Yesterday my daughter and I visited a local shelter. The Town Lake Animal Center in Austin is huge and has lots and lots of animals. We even saw some chickens! I filled out the questionnaire and got approved to adopt a dog. $75 for a pet that has been given its shots and has already been spayed or neutered is a real bargain. They get 50 to 100 dogs a day so I had high hopes.

We looked. I saw dogs with lovely temperaments and knew they would make great pets—for someone else. I saw a couple I liked—and of course they already had the “adopted” sticker on their cages. Did put in a request to be called for a dog on the “other side” (where newly brought in animals are kept) in case he becomes adoptable and the person ahead of me chooses not to adopt. I won't know until I have a chance to interact with him if he's the right pet for me and I almost hope the person ahead of me on the list has fallen completely in love with him. Every animal deserves to be adopted by someone who will love them and bond to them deeply. That's how I've felt about the dogs in my life in the past.

So....I'll keep looking. Saw a Papillon the other day with a woman in a store and might look into one of those. We'll see.

I'd love to hear your experiences finding a pet or looking for one or having one.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

NJ and Dogs

I could tell you about my week in NJ. On the plus side, I got to spend time with my son who has Down syndrome and I visited an amazingly wonderful group home. On the down side? Driving a car on the freeway after midnight when a tire had been down to 12 pounds earlier in the day (that my ex forgot to warn me about until the next day). Toilets overflowing. Pipes spewing water all over the laundry room (and into the carpeted family room). And so on. I think I'd rather talk about dogs.

I'd like to have a dog. I'd love to have a collie but I'm not sure I can handle a dog that big any more. So maybe a sheltie? Of course, in Austin, both shelties and collies are hard to find. Well, with the heat we get and their long fur....need I say more?

So I'm at a bit of a loss. I'm not sure whether to look for a sheltie or consider another kind of dog. But if not a sheltie or collie, what breed? Generally I'm more drawn to dogs with long rather than shorter fur. Since I'd probably have the dog inside more than outside and take it for walks, smaller is probably better than bigger. A mellow temperament would be a bonus.

I'm not asking for much, am I? I have checked out dogs for adoption from shelters and rescue groups. Nothing clicked and I'm not about to adopt a pet lightly. I'd rather not get a dog than get one I'll regret.

So who knows? I may get a sheltie or I may not get a dog at all or I may find a mixed breed I love.

Anyway, I'd love to have suggestions on types of dogs—both warnings and recommendations!

Friday, July 18, 2008

next Book in a Week class

I realize some of you have already taken this class. If so, please pass the information on to anyone who you think might be interested. If you're going to RWA National conference in San Francisco and you haven't taken this class yet, it might be a great way to harness the writing energy you have when you get back!

Book in a Week

This class will run 5 weeks from (August 11 to September 12)
Cost: $50Deadline to sign up: August 8, 2008Note: Class size will be limited to 35 students maximum

Class Description: Book in a Week

I truly believe that when we are in tune with who we are as writers, the process becomes easier and we become better writers. This class is designed to help you discover what and when and where and how YOU write best. It is designed to take you back to those early days when you couldn't wait to write your book. It's designed to remind you of the joy and the power of playing “make believe” as a child—to let you sidestep any limits you may be setting on yourself and your ability to write.This class will take you through every step of the writing process—from beginning to brainstorm all the way through sending material out to be published.

Weeks 1-3:
Preparing to write the first draft of a book in one week
Creating compelling characters or how to write about real people in nonfiction
Planning plot elements or structure in a nonfiction book
Choosing the right character name
Effective paragraph and sentence structure
Using imagery and sensory detail to add impact
Writing effective dialogueCreating a productive writing environment
Enlisting the support of those around you
Mentally gearing yourself up to write faster (and better) than you thought you could

Week 4:
Intensive Writing Week (August 30 to September 7)
(This is about discovering how writing fits into YOUR life. You can't do it wrong. You won't fail. No matter what happens you will discover more about yourself as a writer than you thought possible during that ONE WEEK of writing!)

Week 5: Evaluating the writing experience itselfMaking revisionsSending out material

The class will be run by having members sign onto an email loop and lessons will arrive via that loop. Lessons will also be posted in the file section of the email loop so that students can download any missed lessons directly. There will be opportunity for discussion on the loop.

April Kihlstrom is an award winning author of 31 published romance novels. She believes Book in a Week is a way to recapture the joy of writing and write faster and more effectively at the same time. Always a slow writer, April was lured into attempting Book In A Week by a group of writers on Genie. Much to her surprise, she discovered it was a technique that worked well for her and she really could write the first draft of a book in a week! Since she began using the book in a week method, Romantic Times has called her a “rising star” and a “diamond of the first water”.

April offers coaching to fellow writers as well as classes and workshops in writing to both romance and non-romance writers and has spoken at many conferences including: the RWA national conference (romance) and the East of Eden conference (non-romance) .

Payment for the class may be made by check or by Paypal. To sign up send an email to with Book in a Week in the header and in the body of the email please put: your name and whether you prefer to pay by check or Paypal.

Monday, July 07, 2008


I have several friends right now dealing with financial crises. They're not alone. Lots of people are. I thought I would post a few things that might be useful when it comes to finances. I'm not an expert. These are strictly lessons I've learned through reading or from experience:

1) 0 interest transfers to new credit cards come with a huge catch. If you charge anything on that card, you pay interest and NONE OF YOUR PAYMENTS go to pay off the interest bearing charges until the zero interest charges are completely paid off.

2) If you are in trouble with your mortgage, talk to your bank but go in with a plan you can show them of how you believe you will be able to pay in the future if they give you a temporary abeyance.

3) If you can't afford to pay cash, you can't afford it. That doesn't mean you can't charge something, only that you need to know you would be able to pay cash if you had to. Exceptions? A house. College loans (within reason). Maybe a car. Unexpected medical bills.

4) Calculate the true cost of what you buy. Everything you buy with credit costs a lot more than anything for which you pay cash—unless the credit card bill is paid in full each month. So when you look at the price of something, tack on the amount of interest you will pay over its lifetime to decide if you can afford it—or really want to spend that much.

5) Financial institutions are out to make money. They will tack on fees and interest any way they can. If a credit card or loan offer looks too good to be true—there's a catch, often a huge one.

6))You don't have good credit unless your credit score is over 750. Otherwise you're going to be charged higher interest on everything.

7) You can sometimes negotiate interest rates on credit cards. Know what interest rate you pay and what the best interest rate is that's currently being offered.

8) There are lots of scammers out there offering to help “fix” your credit or help you with your home that's going into “foreclosure”. You're much better off, in almost all cases, dealing directly with creditors yourself.

9) Don't cancel credit cards. Get the balance down to zero, cut them up if that will help, but don't actually cancel the account (unless there's a fee for having the card). The reason is that the more credit you have available THAT YOU ARE NOT USING, the higher your credit score. The longer you have had a credit card, the better in terms of your credit score.

10) With credit cards look at the true cost of having them—yearly fee (if any, preferably none), interest rates, rules about when an d how they can raise interest rates, late fees and penalties (if that applies to you), etc.

11) Know that with debit cards, businesses can put “holds” on your account for more than the cost of your purchase! This can cause you to overdraw your account even though technically your purchases are within the amount you have in the bank.

12) Get to know which things are luxuries for you and which are true necessities. Separate emotion from your spending. Be realistic about what you can afford.

None of these things are new. Just wanted to share them in hopes that they might help a few people out there.