Tag Archives: pet therapy

Furbaby Friday with Author Mary Gillgannon!


Welcome fellow Wild Rose Press Author Mary Gillgannon, here to share her wonderful writing cats and upcoming historical romance, Lady of Steel.

A CAT ON THE LAP…OR AT LEAST NEARBY

Nikki was my first writing cat. She sat on my lap as I wrote and edited nearly ten books. Most of the time she was content, happy to be perched on her “warm-blooded furniture”. But every once in a while something would upset her and she’d suddenly hiss and leap off for no reason.

I’ve always said that Nikki has PTSD. My sister-in-law found her in her backyard when Nikki was tiny, and one of the cutest kittens I’ve ever seen. (insert kitten picture). Even though my two children nicknamed her “gray bear”, patiently fed her kitten formula and moistened food, slept with her and took her with them everywhere they could, she never quite recovered from the terror of being abandoned by her mother, left on the cold, wet grass in the dark.

Despite her trauma, she has made it eighteen and a half years. She’s thin and feeble now, and cataracts have clouded her enigmatic green eyes. But like many great beauties, she retains much of her elegant allure.

Sadly, Nikki is no longer my writing cat. Seven years ago I moved my desk from a corner of the family room to a beautiful office in our newly remodeled upstairs. Nikki was never able to adapt to the transition, and although she sits on my lap when I watch TV or read, she no longer keeps me company while I write.

My writing cat these days is Benjamin. He doesn’t sit on my lap or even hang out with me much of the time. But he comes and visits me, slipping in the open window of my office in summer (which serves as the upstairs pet door in good weather). He chirps and mews, coaxing me to pet him, to go downstairs and get him treats or just coo nonsense back at him as he sprawls on my very messy desk.

In the course of my writing career, we’ve had six other cats besides Nikki and Benjamin, as well as two dogs. Out of all of them, Benjamin has been the only animal who sees me as his very favorite human and loves me more than anyone in the world. Most of the time he’d rather have me pet and talk to him than give him treats. He comes when I call his name and gazes at me with kingly adoration. When I travel on solo trips, he misses me almost much as my husband does.

Along with his sweet nature, Benjamin has exceptional dignity and gravitas, even for a cat, something my sister sought to capture when she painted this picture of him. (insert painting of Benjamin).

Animals have always been a huge part of my life. I’ve been obsessed with cats ever since I can remember. When I was eight I harassed my father, who thought he hated cats, into getting me my first kitten. Since then I’ve shared my life with over a dozen animals. Not all my pets have loved me the way Benjamin does, but they have enriched my life, calmed and comforted me, made me laugh (and cry when they died) and helped spark my creativity in many ways.

Beth: I loved hearing about your furbabies, Mary. Beautiful kitties.

Mary: I often include animals in my books. My upcoming release, Lady of Steel, features two tomcats, one of whom actually plays a part in the story. Lady of Steel will be released in early 2018, and although I don’t have a cover yet, I chose this classic medieval image to illustrate the mood of the book.

I see Lady of Steel as a feminist romance. Nicola of Valmar is a strong, independent woman living in the medieval era, a time when women had little power and no rights. Her challenge is not only to overcome the oppression and limitations of her world, but to learn to trust, and accept that a man can be a partner and a helpmate, instead of an adversary. Fawkes de Cressy, famed knight and acclaimed Crusader, is the perfect hero for her. For beneath his exterior of ruthless ambition and forbidding dominance, he remains the idealistic young squire who took her maidenhead with exquisite tenderness.

Excerpt:

Fawkes’s eyes flared with violent emotion. “You forget. I knew Mortimer. He tried more than once to kill me. I have no sympathy for him. None at all.”

Nicola let out her breath. Perhaps now they could begin again, and he would stop playing this game of cat and mouse with her. She nodded. “I’m very grateful you understand. I’d worried you might have heard tales of me, stories meant to portray me as wicked and manipulative.”

He watched her intently. “Aye, I have heard tales. ’Tis good you saw fit to reassure me. Perhaps now, perhaps we can…”

He let his words trail off and the atmosphere between them shifted. His dark eyes no longer seemed stern and implacable, but smoldered with frank sexual desire. The tension between them altered, erupting with blazing arousal. Fire started in her loins and spread outward, making her skin ache for his touch. She tilted her head, awaiting his kiss.

He hesitated, as if even now he feared to take this final step and give into what his body obviously desired. Observing his forbearance, she thought for the dozenth time of how different he was from Mortimer. Mortimer had been a slave to his emotions. This man sought control at all times.

But at last he brought his lips to hers. The blaze took them both.

Beth: I am a fan of this time period and your story sounds fabulous.

Mary Gillgannon is the author of sixteen novels, primarily romances set in the dark age, medieval and Regency time periods. She’s married and has two children. Now that they’re grown, she indulges her nurturing tendencies on four very spoiled cats and a moderately spoiled dog. When not writing or working—she’s been employed at the local public library for twenty-seven years—she enjoys gardening, reading and travel.

Author Links:

Website:  http://marygillgannon.com

Blog: http://marygillgannon.blogspot.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/MaryGillgannonAuthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/MaryGillgannon

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment.

Furbaby Comfort in Times of Grief


When the going gets tough.

(Cooper licking my elbow as I type)

Furbabies don’t understand when someone dies. They carry on as usual, but sense something’s wrong. Maybe with cats, it’s because our purr is off, or our auras are. With dogs, it’s our demeanor. They know, without being told a thing. No explanation required. I need that kind of empathy. My younger brother, Chad, died suddenly this past weekend. He’s had immense challenges for years after a tragic skiing accident as a freshman in college left him with a severe head injury. There were close calls since then, accidental overdoses of his seizure med, and choking incidences. But we always got him back, a little worse for wear, but still with us. This time, we didn’t get him back. He’s with God now, freed from his earthly bonds, but my, oh my, how we miss him. Chad was one of the good ones. His challenges didn’t diminish his inner light. It burned brighter.(Image of my sister, Catherine, Beth, brother John, and Chad in glasses)

Chad insisted on living his life as fully as he could after the accident and was an inspiration to many. His warmth and gentle spirit touched all who knew him, as did his love of nature. He spent his last hours (weeks, months) laying stone around the beautiful water garden at his and my parent’s home, a project that brought him much joy. Now, the water garden is his memorial. Chad’s Pond. Stones with inscriptions from friends and family will be laid beside this lovely site. I will help mom plant bulbs and perennials around it–a memorial garden. We found a plant order form he had already filled out, likely with this in mind.

I have admired that water garden often this week. Each time I return home from these bittersweet visits, I’m greeted by an exuberant puppy, ecstatic to see me. After circling the room/house/yard like he’s been shot out of guns,  Cooper calms down and sits not only with me, but on me. This is new. Normally, Kitty Cream sits by my head. Last evening, when I was very sad, he sat on my middle and snuggled close. He’s nearly three and has never done this before. Kitty Peaches hugs me. Jilly sits by my side. Kitty Pavel isn’t a Cooper fan, so he perches overhead on the couch. I am not alone. Furbabies see to that. Where I am, they are.

(Cooper and Jilly)

‘We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.’~George Elliot

(Peaches and Cream as kittens)

‘What greater gift than the love of a cat?’ ~Charles Dickens

Furbaby Friday with Author K. J. Pierce


I am happy to welcome my good friend and fellow Wild Rose Press author, K. J. Pierce. She brings a wonderful blend of wit, wisdom, and a deep love of her animals friends and mentors. And her contemporary romantic comedy, Yours Truly, is hilarious and cleverly written.

(Mr. Dorian Gray)

K. J. Pierce. Growing up in an Army family, you’d think having pets would be a virtual impossibility, given the frequent moves. We averaged a move every two-three years, but aside from a five-year stretch in Germany when I was a pre-teen and teenager, I don’t remember a time when we didn’t have some sort of animal roaming the household (or for the four years we lived in the Louisiana country just outside of Ft. Polk, rabbits and chickens taking up yard space).

I’m a firm believer about many things animal-related, but looking back, I’m amazed at how much they teach us, even when we’re not paying close attention.

My first cat KC (stood for Kitty Cat…I was a brilliant child…Ha!) taught me that if you stay active and keep yourself in shape, you are, at least for a little while, invincible to things that hurt.

Case in point—we lived in the county, and KC was an indoor/outdoor cat. Whenever we’d take him to the vet, they had to try multiple times to administer his shots. KC was so solid from his roaming-tom ways, the needles would bend whenever they got anywhere near his meaty parts.

(KC)

He also taught me to not make assumptions. See, KC was a fluffy, pure white cat with the most brilliant blue eyes. Every single vet we took him to was shocked he wasn’t deaf – apparently pure white cats with blue eyes are 3-5 more times likely to be deaf than a pure white cat with non-blue eyes.

Sadly, the last thing he taught me was that mistaken identity could kill—he abruptly disappeared one day, and my family and I are fairly certain he was taken for a rabbit and shot for someone’s dinner.

Daisy the beagle, with her multiple litters taught me about birth, but it was Laddie, our Border Collie, who taught me the concept of karma.

Laddie liked to lounge by our roadside mailbox, when he wasn’t herding my brother and me. This, unfortunately, led to his being hit by a horse trailer towed behind a car. The drivers lied about where Laddie had been and how he came to be hit. After Laddie succumbed to his injuries a month or so later, the jerks’ house burnt down. I have vague memories of watching the smoke rise in the distance and thinking they got exactly what they deserved.

(Laddie with K J Pierce and her brother)

It was Shamrock the cat who gave me comfort when I needed it, having been uprooted from Frankfurt, Germany to Fort Knox, Kentucky, as a sixteen-year-old. Bam-Bam, Shammie’s second-in-command, taught me how to grieve when she died of chylothorax. H.O. Templeton, the first of my two pet rats, taught me it was okay to freak everyone out. That was the funniest bit of all. 🙂 Rats actually make great pets, though they don’t live very long. And you don’t ever want to startle them when they’re asleep. I have a scar on my thumb knuckle from where he bit me once. That happened the same weekend I found out about the death of a friend, but that’s an entirely different story.

(Bam-Bam left and Shamrock on the right)

Mr. Dorian Gray is my latest cat boss. He looks remarkably like Shamrock, but has a completely different temperament. Where nothing fazed Shams, Dorian Gray is a fraidy cat. He startles when the toaster pops up, slinks under a bed when it thunders, and is a horrible bed hog. He yells at me for even the most minor infraction: if I step out of the house for any length of time (a one minute trip to the mailbox or a 3 hour writing session at a café, it doesn’t matter); if I’m not in bed on time; if I move while he’s lying on my feet; if he has less than a half a bowl of food; if there’s a closed door.

He’s the cat equivalent of an old man—he’ll tattle when someone’s in his yard, and just the other day, he scared the bejeezus out of a termite inspector who had the audacity to interrupt his closet quiet time. Thankfully, he’s more of a hider than an attack cat.

Unless you’re a lizard. Then you’re pretty well screwed.

I’m not a reptile, though Dorie might tell you I have a lizard brain and I’m as jumpy as he is sometimes. Regardless, Dorian Gray keeps me accountable, and no matter how much I goof up, he still loves me. And knowing you’re deserving of unconditional love, no matter what human hang ups we hold on to, is without parallel.

~~~~~

I wanted the heroine in my first novel, Yours Truly, to have an animal who was on her side, no matter what, and that could do things Izzie would never get away with, which is how she ended up with her demanding Maine Coon, Edgar. Edgar has his own agenda, as most cats do, but despite this, he never steers Izzie wrong. Even she admits Edgar has a knack for knowing who’s good people, though her admission isn’t without self-incrimination. As it goes…

“Life was even worse when I realized my castrated, housebound cat was a better judge of character than I was.”

Ahh…love, sweet love.

Excerpt:

No sooner had I saved the draft and logged offline than Ritchie barreled through the front door, slamming it shut. Edgar bolted from his spot next to me where he served as Editor-in-Chief to my lowly Writer, off to parts unknown.

Ritchie, without so much as a “hello,” stalked off to the bedroom. The squeak from his wet shoes took the sting out. Unfortunately, the mild humor only made room for the K.O. Ritchie was a big, old drama queen.

Edgar was an exceptional judge of character, and I should have listened to him. He hated Ritchie. And when I say he hated Ritchie, I mean Edgar’s mission in life revolved around terrorizing him. The first time Ritchie spent time at the house, Edgar cornered him in the bathroom and threatened him for the twenty minutes I was gone on a store run. When Ritchie moved in six months later, he became prey, and Edgar tracked him and drew blood.

The feeling was mutual. If Edgar hated Ritchie, then Ritchie despised Edgar. Their acrimonious relationship launched a never-ending string of complaints I was expected to referee. Edgar left his mark on anything of Ritchie’s—either by way of bodily functions or shredding by claw. Ritchie, in turn, would conveniently forget to feed or give Edgar fresh water.

And so their feud went, back and forth, until I was dizzy.

Edgar eventually feigned boredom and lay low, and the spray bottles of water Ritchie had placed strategically throughout the house gathered dust. Ritchie, assuming Edgar had learned his place, emptied all the bottles and smugly declared himself alpha. Edgar’s retorts showed up in the form of hairballs and intentionally being underfoot. Ritchie swiped kicks, none ever landing thanks to Edgar’s quick escapes. Edgar added back spraying and shredding to his arsenal.

Ritchie was only slightly less passive aggressive.

Blurb:

Izzie Greene never wanted the limelight. As a caterer for Poe, the top-rated U.S. TV show, she had background player down pat. Her main focus was to spoil the cast and crew and fantasize about her celebrity crush, Scotsman Cardwell Bennett, while navigating the daily chaos.

Izzie’s professional life takes a sharp left turn when her ex-boyfriend unexpectedly arrives on set. Her personal life spirals into Hell when she runs afoul of an unethical paparazzo. Thrust into the public eye, her notoriety is fueled by equal measures of constant scrutiny, speculation, and half-truths. Her rumored romance with Cardwell further stokes the flames.

Held captive by the media, accident-prone Izzie struggles to keep her privacy, secrets, and sanity intact—not to mention her sense of humor. With help from her best friend Delly, her temperamental cat Edgar, and unexpected backup, Izzie might withstand the onslaught. And survive the season.

Website/Social Media Links

Website/Blog: www.misplacedmisfit.com

Facebook Author Page: facebook.com/themisplacedmisfit

Twitter: @MisfitKJPierce

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/kjpierce

 Purchase Links

Amazon Book: https://www.amazon.com/Yours-Truly-K-J-Pierce/dp/1509212825

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/yours-truly-k-j-pierce/1126326413

The Wild Rose Press Website (E-Book): http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/4886-yours-truly.html

Author Bio: K.J. Pierce is a jack of all trades. Her interests are varied enough to make this a requirement for a happy existence. Her main goal in life is to understand the human condition, which she explores through various mediums, including fiction, creative nonfiction, and scriptwriting. She sometimes succumbs to itchy-feet syndrome, a holdover from her Army Brat days. As a result, she can sometimes be found bouncing from locale to locale. She earned a BA in English Literature/Creative Writing from Agnes Scott College and a MLitt in The Gothic Imagination from the University of Stirling, Scotland. She puts them to good use by crafting stories that run the gamut in terms of genres, but which always include an exploration of the societal misfit and the darkness which pervades all facets of life, even in the most comic of circumstances.

K.J. currently lives on the east coast of Central Florida with her cat Dorian Gray, who lives up to his name by striving to be the state’s most prolific lizard serial killer. Yours Truly is her first novel.

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave K .J a comment.

Furbaby Friday with Author Jinny Kirby Baxter


I am happy to welcome my dear friend and talented wordsmith, Jinny Baxter, to share one of the most moving animal stories ever, and her debut novel.

Jinny: It was the worst time of my life. Spring of 2003. I had just lost my husband. We were only married fifteen months when he went to heaven, and I was simply staggering with grief. Thankfully, I had two of the sweetest little granddaughters, Mandy and Kit, who tried very hard to cheer me up.

I wasn’t surprised when they led me through the woods behind their house to a secret hiding place for a mama cat and her litter of kittens. I told them no, I didn’t need some little wild cats to take care of. They insisted that I needed something to love and to love me.

Well, long story short, I ended up with two kittens, mainly because I wanted them to have someone to play with while I was at work. TJ was a black and white Tuxedo and Baby was a silver Tiger with blue eyes. TJ would remain an outdoor cat and Baby would live her entire life inside, my constant companion.

The two little rascals became a family favorite. Even my son, who claimed he hated cats, grew to love them. Friends commented that TJ was so alert and sleek, he was like a panther. But Baby was the favorite. Her little pink nose topped a mouth that truly looked like a sweet smile. She, like most cats, insinuated herself into whatever I was doing, whether I was just reading a book or rushing a chair. Her snuggling was my favorite thing about her. Often, she would sleep with me and kneed my back, as if to say “Relax human mama, I’m here and I love you.”

When TJ was about five years old, he disappeared for a week. When he came home, he was obviously very sick. The vet gave me the terrible news, he had fatty liver disease and there wasn’t much they could do. I called my family and they all came to the vet’s office and cried with me as TJ crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. (I’m crying now, just remembering.)

A year later, I notice that Baby was having trouble breathing. Well, she was sick too. Stomach cancer. Once again, I called my family and we all wished her a wonderful journey to join her brother on the other side. There was so much emotion in that room that even the vet cried with us.

Oh, I grieved those fur babies.  I think they were more than pets, they were a connection to my late husband, they had shared my life while I slowly put it back together. I like to think TJ and Baby are together now, happy and rather smug as they say, “We completed our job on earth, we helped her find her way back to living her life.”

Fanciful maybe, but there is so much we don’t know about the other side, so many possibilities.  A couple of weeks after we buried Baby, I was sitting out on my back porch at dusk. It was a dreary evening, rather chilly for the time of year and a thick fog had fallen over the area. Suddenly the fog shifted a bit and a silver-grey tabby appeared. She sat there for about five minutes while I struggled with disbelief and maybe even shock. I knew it was my Baby, come to let me know she was alright. Finally, I rose and approached her. She tilted her head as if to say “Good bye” and turned and walked back into the fog.  You’ll never convince me that our pets don’t have hearts and souls and give us unconditional love. I will always miss them, but they were very big stitches in the fabric of my life.

Beth: Jinny, that was amazing and deeply touching. Thanks for sharing with us. I remember when you saw Baby, although I didn’t realize then the full significance of what she meant to you. I do now.

About Jinny’s new release:

“An August Affair” is my first book, although I have a lot of experience writing magazine and newspaper articles, as well as the dreaded SOP Manuals. (Standard Operating Procedures for work places.) This book was a refreshing labor of love where I could abandon excruciatingly boring facts and dream a little.

The setting is an old house in the mountains where many strange things have previously and are currently happening. My characters must figure out who committed a murder more than two-hundred years ago. Along the way, they learn a lot about themselves, and maybe fall in love.

Blurb for An August Affair:

Seth Berkeley was a man haunted by his past. Trapped in a small town with the ghost of his dead father’s perversions hovering over him, his prospects seemed bleak and hope was a distant fantasy. That all changed with the arrival of certified legal documents declaring him the sole beneficiary of a beautiful colonial estate in the mountains of Virginia. Seth jumped at this opportunity at a new beginning and left at once.

Willow Callahan suffered from one calamity after another. The most recent was leaving a job she loved after the sexual harassment of a new employee protected by nepotism made it impossible to continue working there. A chance encounter at a diner led her to discover that the old Berkeley estate may need renovating. Willow jumped at this chance to exorcise her personal demons and leave the specter of her past behind.

Their exploration leads to the discovery of a child’s skeleton on the wine cellar. From then on, every new discovery leads to danger and secrets they must unravel, and an unexpected passion neither of them wants. Can they solve the mystery of Seth’s heritage and heal their suspicious and fearful hearts along the way?

Excerpt:

She studied his face and could almost see the wall he put up. His bright blue eyes were shadowed and wary. “That sure sounds like an anxiety attack to me. And you used to have them? Were you ever treated for them? Medication? Therapy?”

Seth jerked back in embarrassment. “No! I got over it!”

Willow nodded, understanding instantly that this was a big issue for him. A sign of weakness, something real men didn’t do. “Have you ever tried to figure out what was causing it? Researched it on the internet or talked to a doctor?”

He frowned and shook his head. “No, I don’t even own a computer and my family, well, we didn’t go to the doctor for stuff like that. But it’s all over now; I don’t do that anymore.”

Willow raised an eyebrow and gave him a pointed look. He felt his face heat and averted his gaze. “Well, not until today,” he mumbled.

“Seth,” she urged, “I don’t want you to strip yourself bare. I just want to understand what happened so maybe I can help you get over it. If I’ve done something that reminds you of a bad time, tell me, I’ll stop. We all have things in our past we don’t want to share. I know I do. But I took them out and looked at them and decided I had to put them behind me. I couldn’t go on until I did. And the same goes for you. If you are hanging on to a bunch of yesterdays, you can’t embrace today. Do you understand that?”

Author Bio

Jinny Kirby Baxter is a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother who has always dreamed of being a published author. Her life has been filled with many obstacles, but here she is at this late date killing it! She has written many newspaper and magazine articles, as well as the dreaded SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) for her past employment. Some of her past experiences prompted her to write about a man tortured by childhood abuse and the growing awareness of this despicable social problem. Her mantra is “It’s never too late to shine” and dreams can come true for all of us! She lives with her sister in a small town in Nevada and is working on a sequel to her first book!

***An August Affair is available in kindle: 

Follow Jinny’s Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Jinny-Kirby-Baxter/e/B073KKLMH7