Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Best Damn Cat in All the World By C.P. Stringham

Saying goodbye to my handsome and silly boy, Skimbleshanks.
It is with a heavy heart that I compose this week’s post for our Broads of a Feather blog. On Monday, we had to have one of our fur-family members euthanized. Skimbleshanks (AKA: Skimby, Skimble, Boo, Skimby Boobers, and Booby Boy) was just ten weeks old when we adopted him from the Bradford County Humane Society. This post will be a tribute to our longtime family member of the fur variety.
At 3 1/2, Syd was already belting out 
Broadway tunes with her favorite musical. Cats
Almost fifteen years ago, we entered our local shelter looking to adopt a female kitten because, at the time, our three year-old daughter had already picked out the name Grizabella. Sydney was obsessed with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway musical Cats and had it memorized. She’d even get dressed up and act out the role of her favorite cat, Grizabella, whose complete backstory was deemed “too sad for children” by T.S. Elliot to even include in his book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.  Sydney knew the words to EVERY song and had the aforementioned cat’s leg-dragging choreography down to a "T" as she belted out Memory. Alas, the shelter didn’t have a female kitten at the time. They did, however, have a few males. One stood out to us from the moment we entered the kitty room. This friendly little white and orange kitten stretched against the metal cage door meowing non-stop to us and reaching his paw out between the bars, almost waving to us, to get our attention. And that did it. Our search was over because Sydney excitedly announced she had found “Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat!”

Skimble in his new home as a kitten.
Skimble joined our family and became a great friend to our daughters, growing up right alongside of them. I have so many fond memories of him being right in the thick of playtime. I can’t even recall how many naps he must have taken with them in blanket tents I’d built for the girls inside our living room. He’d choose to come in under one of the blanket walls versus using the “door” and the girls would squeal with laughter because his entrance usually involved him sticking a playful paw in under the blanket first as he swatted at them. As I told my friends on Facebook the other day, I'm convinced Skimble was supposed to be a dog, but something happened during species assignment. He played fetch and it was the damnedest thing to watch. We’d have guests over who got the biggest kick out of his stunts. His favorite napping spot was on a shelf inside our bathroom linen closet. He’d open the cabinet door and curl up inside. Company would be over and he’d scare the hell out of them when he popped out of the closet to say hello. And then he’d balance on the sink vanity begging them to turn on the cold tap so he could have a fresh drink of water. Sydney says that the bathroom was Skimble’s room. And it was. Unsuspecting overnight guest learned how much he liked to sit on the bathroom vanity and use his paw to open the rear part of the shower curtain so he could watch. Nothing like sudsing up only to find you had a peeping tom spying on you! Good ol’ Skimby.  
Skimble coming out of the bathroom linen closet.
     I can recall the first time Skimble got upset with us and that was when we brought a shelter dog into our house. He wasn’t too keen on the bounding, energetic Australian Blue Heeler/Lab mix puppy. He protested by turning antisocial for a while. His grudge didn’t last long. Then we did it to him again when Tink joined our family. However, Tink, being another cat, wasn’t considered nearly as controversial to him and, soon, the two of them were inseparable. Even though Tink can be quite temperamental—who am I kidding—Tink is bipolar, Skimble always retained the title of “cat boss” in our house. What he said was the final word.

Skimble reminding me it was dinnertime as he scowls over the laptop
screen and on the bathroom vanity waiting for a drink. 
As I explained in a previous post, I was Skimble’s human. No matter what he was doing or where he was in the house, if I called him, he came strolling out to see me. He was always underfoot while I was preparing meals and became insanely happy when he heard a cheese wrapper being opened. Skimble had a serious sharp cheddar cheese addiction—and I was his supplier. Never too much. Just a taste. When I was sick, he’d snuggle with me in bed and stayed throughout the duration of the illness. My feline nursemaid. His favorite activity was to head bump with me. He was also the only cat I’ve ever encountered who, when he really got into it, his purring sounded more like a horse whinnying than anything else. It was freaking hilarious. You could hear him from across the room.
Over the past year, we’d noticed he was losing muscle tone and his appetite wasn’t what it used to be. He was even napping more than usual and not coming out to greet us as much. Some of his antisocial behavior could be attributed to the introduction of Hannibal, our rambunctious Jack Russell Terrier/Chihuahua mix puppy, eighteen months ago. Hanni likes to chase the cats. While we were going through our older dog’s cancer scare three weeks ago, Skimble’s health declined quickly. 
Deciding to put an animal down is never an easy one to make. We went back and forth. His kidneys were shutting down and he wasn’t getting around well. He even looked at us like, “It’s okay. I’m ready to say goodbye now.” And that killed me. This past weekend was the worst. Even though he kept following me to every room I was in and meowing to me when I talked to him, he was really struggling. It was heartbreaking. Part of me wanted him to just fall asleep and not wake up. That didn’t happen. Too many times, we’ve seen friends and family put their pets through numerous life-prolonging treatments that they later confided to us they wished they hadn’t done. Quality of life needs to be a huge consideration. Are we prolonging the inevitable for purely selfish reasons only meant to help us hold onto them longer or is it something truly for the animal? Skimble was two months shy of his fifteenth birthday which is equivalent to seventy-six years old in “people years.” He’d had a long and happy life with our family. Ultimately, my husband made the call. He knew I was distraught and conflicted. Skimble hated going to his vet appointments. Hated. It. So much so, he would go into hiding the moment the cat carrier came into our house. When I say hiding, I mean hiding. He’d pick places almost impossible for us to get him out of. Offers of cat treats and even sharp cheddar cheese didn’t work to bring him out. Once you caught him, he’d throw up, pee, and get instant diarrhea from inside the carrier. He’d even bite given the opportunity. I feared the emotional trauma of being taken to the vet clinic was going to be enough to do him in. My husband said he laid inside the large box with a blanket inside it all the way there, not once trying to get out. He was even alert. Watching everything calmly. He was ready. Even if his human wasn’t. I didn’t accompany him to the clinic. I couldn’t. I said goodbye to him while my husband put his coat on. I was a total mess. Our dogs were all over me when I fell apart as the car left our driveway with Boober Boy going for his last ride to the vet’s. My youngest was home from school. Neither of us slept much the night before. We had stayed up with Skimble, sitting with him on the floor, petting him and talking to him as he purred away. Kenzie kept hugging me. Our pets are her best friends. Due to the quirks of her autism spectrum disorder, she doesn’t have many peer friends. Animals are nonjudgmental. They love unconditionally. Kenzie was losing one of her best friends and that bothered me even more to see her so upset.
My husband returned home and told me it was done. We’re having Skimble cremated so that we can bury him in our backyard when the ground thaws. All of our late pet family members are back there—even the girls’ chickens who have passed. A trip to the Troy Fair is in order to have a grave marker made for him that will simply read: Skimbleshanks 2000-2015 because I can't fit "The best damn cat in all the world" in the space provided.

Now, I can’t end this post on such a sad note. I had readers report that they were in tears from my last blog post, Confessions of Storm's Human. Stormy’s histology report came back and she doesn't have the more dangerous mammary cancer!! Instead it is peripheral nerve sheath cancer which is slower growing, less likely to spread to other areas, and the cancer cell itself was of the less aggressive variety. Our vet is confident he got it all so she has a clean bill of health! We couldn’t be more relieved. She’s had visitors and get well gifts and is loving life. My husband took her this morning to have her sutures removed since she passed the fourteen day post-surgery mark which means no more Cone of Shame!! 
Skimbleshanks from Cats by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber

The T.S. Elliot poem copied from : 

    Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat

    There's a whisper down the line at 11:39
    When the Night Mail's ready to depart,
    Saying 'Skimble where is Skimble has he gone to hunt the thimble?
    We must find him or the train can't start.'
    All the guards and all the porters and the stationmaster's daughters
    They are searching high and low,
    Saying 'Skimble where is Skimble for unless he's very nimble
    Then the Night Mail just can't go.'
    At 11:42 then the signal's nearly due
    And the passengers are frantic to a man -
    Then Skimble will appear and he'll saunter to the rear:
    He's been busy in the luggage van!
    He gives one flash of his glass-green eyes
    And the signal goes 'All Clear!'
    And we're off at last for the northern part
    Of the Northern Hemisphere!

    You may say that by and large it is Skimble who's in charge
    Of the Sleeping Car Express.
    From the driver and the guards to the bagmen playing cards
    He will supervise them all, more or less.
    Down the corridor he paces and examines all the faces
    Of the travellers in the First and in the Third;
    He establishes control by a regular patrol
    And he'd know at once if anything occurred.
    He will watch you without winking and he sees what you are thinking
    And it's certain that he doesn't approve
    Of hilarity and riot, so the folk are very quiet
    When Skimble is about and on them ove.
    You can play no pranks with Skimbleshanks!
    He's a Cat that cannot be ignored;
    So nothing goes wrong on the Northern Mail
    When Skimbleshanks is aboard.

    Oh it's very pleasant when you have found your little den
    With your name written up on the door.
    And the berth is very neat with a newly folded sheet
    And there's not a speck of dust on the floor.
    There is every sort of light - you can make it dark or bright;
    There's a button that you turn to make a breeze.
    There's a funny little basin you're supposed to wash your face in
    And a crank to shut the window if you sneeze.
    Then the guard looks in politely and will ask you very brightly
    'Do you like your morning tea weak or strong?'
    But Skimble's just behind him and was ready to remind him,
    For Skimble won't let anything go wrong.
    And when you creep into your cosy berth
    And pull up the counterpane,
    You are bound to admit that it's very nice
    To know that you won't be bothered by mice -
    You can leave all that to the Railway Cat,
    The Cat of the Railway Train!

    In the middle of the night he is always fresh and bright;
    Every now and then he has a cup of tea
    With perhaps a drop of Scotch while he's keeping on the watch,
    Only stopping here and there to catch a flea.
    You were fast asleep at Crewe and so you never knew
    That he was walking up and down the station;
    You were sleeping all the while he was busy at Carlisle,
    Where he greets the stationmaster with elation.
    But you saw him at Dumfries, where he summons the police
    If there's anything they ought to know about:
    When you get to Gallowgate there you do not have to wait -
    For Skimbleshanks will help you to get out!
    He gives you a wave of his long brown tail
    Which says: 'I'll see you again!'
    You'll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail
    The Cat of the Railway Train.'

    T S Elliot

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Late Saturday Night by Robin Janney

Here it is, 'late' Saturday evening (almost 8:30) and I haven't been able to finish the blog post I've been working on for over a week.  I was just looking at it, and realized sadly that I wouldn't be able to do my subject justice if I tried rushing it for publication tonight.

So here I am, trying to put something halfway decent together at the same time as helping one of Mr. Janney's Xbox friends with technical issues with his account...or email.  I'm not really sure what, but since I am the more computer literate partner, I'm the one trying to help.  Unfortunately, I think it's a case of a stolen/hacked account and beyond anything I can help with.  I ended up having to put the headphones on myself and talking to the other gamer, because Mr. Janney as messenger was just confusing me.

And that started me on a quest to check all me email accounts to make sure they were still good and in my control.  Which happily they are.  I don't check my older yahoo emails very often, and in fact quake at the thought of how many emails I really need to delete.  I'll get to it someday.

Of course, going to Yahoo led me to look at some of their headlines.  The "Laser Cat" high school senior has died, apparently of suicide.  Kyle Busch will not be participating in the Daytona 500 because he was injured in a crash during another race.  And J. Lo was photobombed.  Yahoo news articles are like doing raids in Clash of Clans...once I start, I don't want to stop.

The suicide story bothers me, as they always do.  It's heartbreaking when someone sees no other option than to take their own life.  I have a character in my third book battling depression, and ever since a classmate of mine took her life, I've been struggling with this to whether she commits suicide or whether she survives an attempt.  The thought of either hurts.  I know that may sound odd, because she's a fictional character...she's not 'real'.  I'm not sure whether my struggle is because it's the wrong plot move, or whether I'm just afraid to commit to that kind of death.  Murder is one thing - a life taken because of another's will. such as Harry Flynn in my first novel.  I don't feel sorry for his death though, he was a bit of a creep.  I felt a little bad for having one of the antagonists in my second novel shot, but she was threatening the heroine's life and her fathers do not tolerate that sort of thing.

I don't know.  I'm missing a piece of the puzzle still.  I have no doubt I'll figure it out eventually.  It's just a matter of asking myself the right question to unlock the answer.

Is anybody reading anything good?  I'm reading one of my 'free' Kindle purchases I made who knows how long ago, The Bridge.  I'm not very far into it, just enough to know it's about an old Chinese woman who lives at a spot where children are often abandoned.  She rescues them and takes them to the orphanage.  Until she rescues one who is blind and the orphanage can't help him the way he needs, so she takes him home to foster him.  I didn't read the synopsis to refresh my memory before I started reading, so I really have no idea what to expect.  I'm liking it so far.

I'm going to keep it short, not just because I'm so late this week but also because I'm beat.  My husband and I were sick this week and I'm still not feeling my usual weekender self.  Enjoy what's left to it friends :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Confessions of Storm's Human By: C.P. Stringham

My oldest had a few of her senior photos taken with our dogs; Hannibal the Cannibal in the first and then Stormy giving smooches. And, in the last photo, Hanni wearing one of his many doggy coats--he's very dapper!
First, let me just say, I am one of those animal people. I love my pets; each one of them for their very different personalities and quirks. Our extended fur family includes two dogs, Storm, a German Shepherd/Australian Blue Heeler cross, Hannibal, a Jack Russell Terrior/Chihuahua cross, and three cats, Skimpleshanks, Tinkerbell, and Helena Bonham Kitty (AKA Kitten Face). I am proud to say that each of them are a rescue animal of some form. Although my family has never set out to adopt a “mine” or “yours” animal, each one has a human they have taken to more than the rest. It just happens. Animal people will understand. Out of our brood, Storm and Skimble have claimed me as their human. Hanni and Helena have claimed Sydney and Tink has claimed Kenzie. My husband pays attention to each of them in his own way and isn’t offended in the least that he hasn’t been “claimed.” Storm still greets him with great zeal when he comes home and Hanni likes nothing more than to take a nice afternoon nap with his Grandpa.
Our kitties!!! My boy, Skimby, is our senior citizens. I'm afraid a sad day is coming with him.

This week’s blog post is about my girl Storm who has been with us since July 2007—three days after our dog, Star, an Australian Blue Heeler/Labrador cross left us after a sudden illness. Heartbroken and hurting from her death, I told my husband I didn’t want another dog because the pain from losing her was too much. I couldn’t put myself through it again. And then I gave in because the loneliness was worse. Star fit in so well with our family and I had been her chosen human. She was the smartest dog we’d ever been around. How many can say their puppy housebroke in just three days at nine week’s old? Star did and she was quick to learn so many other things. She also had a wonderful demeanor with children. She was a mother hen. For that reason, we hoped to find another Blue Heeler mix. My husband, not one to let us down, called all the regional shelters and struck gold on his last call. He’d gotten the number to Four Paws (a no-kill shelter) from the Elmira SPCA. They had three pups left from a litter of ten week-old Blue Heeler/German Shepherd puppies; a male and two females. I told him I couldn’t go with them to pick a puppy out, telling him I’d want them all. Analyzing it, I think it boils down to me feeling as if I wasn’t honoring Star’s memory long enough and that, by picking out a new puppy, I wasn’t mourning her in a timely tribute. I don’t know what it was. At any rate, my husband shrugged it off and took both of our daughters and my mother with him. My mom adored Star. Since she babysat our girls after work and school until my husband or I got home, she spent a lot of time with her. I guess you could say my mom was one of Star’s humans, too. She went crazy when my mom visited. Would tear up the living room in this celebratory dance when my mom walked in the door. Seriously. Back to my story, the four of them returned home to tell me they had a female on hold for a few hours and they wanted me to see her before the adoption was completed. We knew we wanted a female so I asked them how they decided between the two sisters. It was all rather scientific. Sydney, who was eleven at the time, said she took a seat on the ground as the pups ran around them. One of the two females kept coming up to her and licking her face. Star wasn’t a licker. Syd wanted puppy kisses and so a pup was picked out. I still declined to return with them, but agreed that puppy kisses would be nice.
Marvel Comics' Storm/Aurora Monroe. Photo from
Storm got her name from the Marvel Comics character because Sydney was into the X-Men movies. To my oldest, Storm was pretty kick-ass. Little did we know, her name would suit the turbulent beginning she had in our home. Just three days after coming to live with us, she developed horrible diarrhea and refused to eat or drink. She was listless and uninterested. We called our vet and they made an emergency appointment. Testing revealed she had the dreaded Canine Parvovirus. And she had it bad. Even though she had been vaccinated, our vet figures she’d gotten her vaccine two to three days too late. It can affect them that quickly. She was in desperate need of IV fluids and electrolytes so she was hospitalized and quarantined due to the high risk of contagiousness. The vet and vet techs even had to wear sterile gowns while working with her so as not to spread the virus to their other patients. They had her for a week. Our vet knew we were still hurting over our recent loss and told my husband he was going to do everything he could to save Storm—even though he told us to prepare for the worst since she was categorized as critical condition. On the last day, he said she showed signs of improvement, but they were still unsuccessful getting her to eat and it was imperative to get her digestive tract working again so she could recover. His call to my husband came with a warning, “If we can’t get her to eat within the next 24 to 48 hours, I’m afraid we will lose her.” What he recommended next was a last ditch effort on his behalf. He explained that with her quarantine, it was difficult for them to have quality contact with her. That he felt she was depressed and had lost her will to live. Dr. Wilcox knew what he was going to ask us to do would be hard on our family in the event it didn’t work, but he asked anyway. He felt that, if we brought her home to her family and she got some one-on-one attention, she may come around. We agreed to give it a try even though, just ten days prior, Star had passed away at home. When I picked her up, I had to meet the vet tech around back because they didn’t want to risk contamination by using the front of the office. Storm was wrapped in a blanket and barely lifted her head when I took her. The vet tech went over the instructions with getting her to eat as the top priority. She said Dr. Wilcox said he didn’t care what we gave her as long as it was just a small amount to get it going.

Once we were home, I uncovered her and was shocked that this skin and bones puppy was still alive. A patch of fur had been shaved off to allow for her IV. Probably against all sorts of health rules, I held her against me, tucking her under my chin and kissing her, talking to her about how much we wanted her to get better. I was a blubbering mess. I boiled boneless skinless chicken breast and made plain rice for her. Mixed it together in a small portion. She wouldn’t even take the time to give it a cursory sniff. Two hours later, still nothing. Not even a drink of water. That’s when I decided to fry some hamburger for her. Once it was done, I rinsed it off in the sink using a strainer. I added it to her food dish before taking a pinch of it and opened her jowls to put it on her tongue. She squirmed and lolled her tongue back and forth. I wouldn’t let her spit it out. Finally, she swallowed it. I gave her a moment and then did it again. And again. I sat her down in front of her dish and watched her take to her wobbly legs to sniff the hamburger. And then, she started eating it. I wasn’t quick to get my hopes up. I knew they said the true test would be to see if she could keep it down and then the next would be to see if her stool had changed from watery to solid. As the day went on, I gave her a tablespoon of hamburger every few hours with no bouts of vomiting. By the next day, she was more alert and active as her coordination and strength seemed to be returning. All signs of diarrhea seemed to be gone as well. By the third day, she had rounded the corner into recovery. Storm survived Parvovirus!! Within two weeks, she gained weight and grew taller. She was a happy puppy in love with her home and her family.
On the morning of my youngest daughter’s eighth birthday, tragedy hit. While Kenzie was carrying her, like a baby, Storm had playfully bit at her face and Kenzie dropped her on our concrete walkway. The sound was loud and distinct. It was obvious to all in the vicinity that her front leg was broken. My husband called our vet’s answering service. Dr. Wilcox was interrupted during his Sunday morning at church and returned our call. He was distraught over hearing about the latest turn of events for Storm and told my husband to bring her in and they would open the office for her. His son, Dr. Andy, examined her and consulted x-rays. The fall had, indeed, broken both ulna and radius bones in her front left leg. My husband called home with the news. I was worried they would want to put her down and was insistent that we do everything we could for her. She’d been through so much already. Dr. Andy reassured us that he was determined not to let that happen. He felt they were clean breaks and set them. She came home in a paw to elbow cast that weighed more than she did. A week later, we took her back for a new cast. Puppies grow quickly and putting on new casts would accommodate growth spirts. We did this one other time and, within four weeks, she was x-rayed and her bones were perfectly healed. Thank you, Dr. Andy!!!
Even with her shaky start, Storm can run like the wind. She turns up the dust in our fenced in backyard as she completes her “guard duty” tours as protector of our family. Despite having a collar with clanking tags hanging from it, she has managed to catch and kill nine birds—she’s THAT fast. At seven, almost eight years old, she has slowed down quite a bit. She’ll get stiff at night after a particularly active day running around with Hannibal and playing chase. All in all, our middle-aged girl still has it.
Storm, in various stages, catching up on
her sleep at home after her surgery and
Hannibal observing. 
This past July, we noticed a small lump on her lower abdomen. Our vet checked it out and said it was hard to tell if it was the start of a cyst or a tumor. Dr. Fedderman told us to keep an eye on it for any changes. This past January, within weeks, it quadrupled in size and color. In fact, it looked like Storm had grown a testicle. We had her in last week and Dr. Warner expressed her concerns over the progression of it. She consulted with Dr. Andy, their clinic surgeon, and he agreed that it needed to be removed as soon as possible. Storm is reasonably young and still full of energy. Overall, she’s a wonderful dog. She is well-disciplined, wonderful around young children, other pets, and would protect my family with her very last breath—of this, I have no doubt. While we knew the surgery would set us back financially, we opted to do what we could to help prolong her life. I dropped her off yesterday for a lumpectomy for her apparent mammary cancer. While having her under, they also removed a fatty tumor from the base of her sternum. It was excruciatingly hard as we waited on an update call from the clinic. When it finally came, we were at Kenzie’s pediatric neurology appointment and the call couldn’t come through on my husband’s cell phone. It wasn’t until we were on our way home from Ithaca that my husband noticed he had a voicemail. Dr. Andy reported that Storm went under and came out of anesthesia with no trouble. He found the tumor still encapsulated and fairly easy to remove. He’s confident it didn’t spread and he was able to get everything. The second, much smaller lump, appeared to be a fatty mass and is most likely benign material. He said he removed it as a precaution. The prognosis is for a full recovery and he said she could come home the next day.
My husband and I made the 25 minute commute to pick her up. It was difficult keeping tears from falling as the vet tech brought her out to us. I hate how emotional I get! Storm was soooo ready to go home. The first thing she did when she greeted me? Yup. Her tongue swiped my cheek. I love those puppy kisses! The vet tech told us that Storm refused to eat her soft dog food this morning and it was important she got it since her pain medication and antibiotic were mixed in with it. She put it in a doggy bag to send home with us. I wasn’t surprised to hear she wouldn’t eat for them. My hunger strike girl. Once we arrived home, I took her for a walk on the leash so she could piddle. I have a feeling she had been holding it for a long time. Probably didn’t want to have an “accident” in her kennel at the clinic since she never messes in the house. I brought her inside and Hanni went ballistic over being reunited with his aunt. I put her doggy bag of food on a paper plate, showed it to her, and she ate it right up—pills and all. Just as I’d told the vet tech, she wanted her human mommy.
L to R: The dreaded Cone of Shame, her mammary tumor scar, her sternum scar. Lots of boo-boos. 

She goes back in fourteen days to have her sutures removed. We chose to have samples sent out for histology testing. It will take seven to ten days for results. My husband and I want to know what type of cancer cell we’re dealing with. It will help us make decisions down the road. While we will do what we can to give our girl a full life, we are of the mindset that, at a certain point, you have to consider quality of life. We wouldn’t want to do anything to her that would make her suffer just to give us more time with her. That would be selfish. For now, x-rays reveal she has no troubling spots near her major organs and she is full of energy. Let’s hope we have many more years together!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Winter Blues and Books! By Robin Janney

Here it is Saturday night and I have no idea what to write.  I tried starting this post on Wednesday but became sidetracked and have since transferred it to another place for later.  Or never.

"Be Yourself." It's something I struggle with in the area of blogging.  Not always knowing what to write, because I don't want to cross the line and revert back into the venting mode I used to use when blogging.  I'm conscious of the fact that I have readers that I know in person and it's a constant thought in the back of my head.  I have never completely lost the negative trait of wondering what so-and-so will think.  Because of this, I often don't always say or write what I'm really thinking.  And that's not always a bad thing.

I'm still very down because of recent events, and there's the possibility that my thyroid medicine still isn't a high enough dosage.  It is very hard for me to write anything when depression is bad.  Even poetry.  I've always written best when the tide has turned and I'm climbing my way back out.  I know some of it is due to life events, and some of it is due to our lovely winter weather.  We have another snow and ice storm due to start sometime tomorrow - oh joy!  I can hardly contain myself.

Of all the goals I set back at the beginning of January, the one I am sticking to the most, oddly enough, is posting more on Twitter.  How weird is that?  I've been picking up new followers though, and connected with another aspiring author.  I gave her what advice I had, and we became friends on Facebook.  One thing Lisa did was start herself a blog, how exciting is that?  It should be fun to watch her grow as a blogger and writer!

I haven't forgotten my other goals, and still have faith that I'll see them to fruition.

Two things are happening in the world of books that really kinda have me pumped.  One, if you haven't heard yet, where have you been? Harper Lee is releasing a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird.  Because of pre-orders, Go Set A Watchman is already on the best sellers list; it's not due out until the middle of July!  It will be a long wait for some people.

The second isn't quite as impressive I guess, but Frank Peretti showing his face on his Facebook page made my day.  He was sharing about his latest endeavor with a group of three other authors.  A new series, each novella written by a different author and in a different character's voice.  If you're interested, you can find the first book here on Amazon.  Frank's book will be out in March.

I've always been a fan of Frank Peretti.  His writing resonates with me.  The book that won my heart for life though was The Visitation.  I reread it every so often, just to see which character I identify with at the current point in my life.  It changed how I thought about God, church, and so-called spiritual gifts.  It gave me piece about my journey in life.  And yes, it's fiction.

I'm in between books at the moment, but will soon be picking one up to read.  Maybe Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, or Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.  I haven't decided yet.  What books have you read so far this year?  What are you looking forward to reading?