Saturday, December 30, 2017

RIP Heather McClaw

RIP Heather McClaw


February 14, 2005 – December 30, 2017

We came to the rescue for her brother, but I couldn’t look into her big blue eyes and not take her as well. As one of her foster moms said, “She’s got eyes clear to infinity.”

It was a good decision. Heather was pretty much inseparable from Reese. Here we have Pinky and the Brain: 






We didn’t realize she was Nurse Heather until our eldest cat, Rambo, who was seventeen had an illness. Heather and Tara “bookended” the Old Man and kept him warm until he felt better. Here’s the three of them in better times:



I think she could get almost anything out of people if she used her Big Blue eyes: 





She was the first one of our cats to help make Indy welcome. I knew the little scamp would be okay when he finally recognized, “hey, she looks kind of like me.” She’s been a patient and good mama to the Irrepressible “Dr. Jones.” 





She bathed Indy and loved him just like his Mama cat did:



She even conned her brother, Reese, into accepting the evil little alien.


Probably the best testament to her character is when we had a heartworm positive foster dog, Andy. Because of the immiticide, Andy had to remain on crate rest for 28 days. We figured the cats wouldn’t bother him. Instead, Heather chose to keep him company. For most of his stay, she remained faithfully outside that crate. Whenever Andy got restless and needed to take a potty break or wasn’t feeling well, she’d come and get one of us to help take care of him. 





She faithfully kept her post throughout Andy’s fostering and even gave her approval to his new parents, Rick Dunham and Pam Tobey, when they drove down from D.C. to pick him up.

And why do I keep calling her “Nurse Heather” instead of “Doctor Heather?” Because docs make their diagnoses, write their orders, and leave the nurses to do the work. She stuck around with the patient to make sure all was okay.

Her vet described her as the World’s Sweetest Cat and even the student vets at UT-Knoxville Vet School said she was one of the easiest animals they ever worked with. She’s just a dear good girl. But she’s not perfect. Never leave any kind of “bling” within her reach. She’ll steal it! I don’t know how many necklaces Tony had I both lost to her before we found her stash.



She’s truly the Queen of Bling. Someone actually said, “Why would you do that to your cat?” Hey, she put her head in there. She LIKES having jewelry. I remember after she came back from radiation for her thyroid, we bought her Mardi Gras beads. She was insulted they were plastic.



I don’t know why an animal so sweet would have to go through what she has. Her veterinary record was thick and painful, including a bladder full of struvites, two nukes for thyroid, and pancreatitis. When we found out last fall she had cancer, we would have biopsied, but the mass in her abdomen was close to her aorta and the vets said the procedure was dicey at best. Somehow I believe she hung on past my birthday and Christmas to make the holiday good.

I’m sure her brother, the weremeezer, will sing the song of their people to the moon for her. I don’t think I have ever met a sweeter, more thoughtful animal. I’m writing this through tears and I expect I’ll be crying for days to come. My heart feels broken in half. I don’t think I could put it much better than Leonard Cohen.

There is a crack, a crack in everything. 
That’s how the light gets in.

Rest peacefully, Little Bird….You brought a lot of light to this world.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Cat Tails Blog

Cat Tails War Zone is a charity anthology co-edited by Dana Bell and myself to benefit Shadow Cats, a cat rescue out of Round Rock, Texas. Shadow Cats does amazing work in several areas: feeding feral colonies, sheltering FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus ) positive cats who can recover from the illnesses which were previously thought to be fatal with proper food, rest, and shelter. They also work to find forever homes for adoptable cats and kittens.

My husband and I learned about this rescue from our veterinarian, Dr. Roy B. Smith, who runs the rescue with his wife, Sheila. While we lived in Austin, we volunteered for them. Here’s a picture of our Shadow Cat, SamWise, who was an amazing animal:

What we’re looking for are stories where cats were helpers to a war effort. There actually are many real-life examples of cats protecting ancient temples, guarding soldier’s food supplies from rodents, and keeping troop morale up by serving as a unit mascot. If you’re interested in seeing real-life examples of cats helping, here’s an article from PetMD:

http://www.petmd.com/cat/slideshows/seasonal/five-cats-of-war

At the moment, we have stories ranging from the Vikings to the future. Examples of time-frames are: Vikings, Revolutionary War, World War II, current-day warfare, and the future. We’re accepting all genres, so you can even have your troops fighting aliens or some other type of creature, but please keep the rating PG-13. The deadline is December 31, 2017; however, we can be somewhat flexible if need be. Contact the editors at: BellKyleEditors@gmail.com for details.

The submission call, with more details, is here:

http://www.wolfsingerpubs.com/CatTailsGuidelines.html

Saturday, November 11, 2017

More Alternative Truths


People often ask why writers write what they do. I have never had a clearer answer than in this particular case.

My story in More Alternative Truths is dedicated to my Mom, Helen Dorothy McFarland-Brewer, who instilled a desire to learn in me that often put me at odds with the schools I attended.

Mom loved to do many things: cook, sew, interact with family, play with cats, but I think the thing she enjoyed most doing was teaching. And she seldom missed an opportunity to provide new knowledge. From an early age, Mom taught me to observe the world around me and study it, to read and learn as much as I could, to respect learning in others. From solar eclipses to cooking clay for me so I could learn how to make colors, she seldom missed a teachable moment.

As I grew, she said "Look it up" as many times as she said, "I love you." I learned early how to use both dictionaries and encyclopedias--the only problem with that was I occasionally got lost and couldn't stop!

Every day, I see the new administration decrying facts. Every discipline is taking a hit, particularly science. And if that science interferes with fascist corporate interests, the pertinent disciplines may not be taught at all in the future.

Growing up with a natural educator for a mother, I wondered could someone born to teach stop even if she faced stiff penalties? And what would be the inevitable consequences when those teachers continued to provide their most precious treasure, knowledge, to others?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Alternative Truths Anthology


"This machine kills fascists," Woody Guthrie painted that message on his guitar in 1941 in a fit of patriotism. Other artists subsequently followed suit. At that point, the United States was fighting Hitler.

Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale, describes the conditions in 1939 the year she was born:  "“Having been born in 1939 and come to consciousness during World War II, I knew that established orders could vanish overnight … Anything could happen anywhere, given the circumstances.”

I lost two uncles in that fight. They were both good men who enlisted and believed in the cause. No one ever conceived that fascism was coming to our own country. And yet here we are, 76 years later facing a reality that grows increasingly surreal each day. 

The following comes from Bob Brown, publisher and editor of Alternative Truths:

"Alternate Truths Anthology was formed, when on February 23, 2017 I, and many of my friends, asked what we could do. We could write, we could join that noble tradition of using the pen, to poke the powerful.

So was born, Alternative Truths. And our pens became word processors and our ideas became stories.

Kellyanne Conway was not the first political operative to applying flexibility to truth. But she gave us the best ever description of the premise when she coined the phrase, “Alternative Facts,” in describing what George Orwell had for all previous generations labeled as New Speak.

Like beauty, truth, especially political truth, is in the eye of the beholder, and for years Americans have tolerated the common elements of exaggeration and rhetoric from their politicians. But not since the early days of the nation has such a mockery of truth been made in the name of politics, and in that vein we present to you, Alternative Truths."

The anthology is twenty-four stories from notable authors, including Phyllis Irene Radford, Louise Marley, Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station, and twenty-one others following in Guthrie's tradition creating everything from humor to dystopic horror in the name of truth.

I leave you with words from one of my favorite presidents: 


"It is the part of  America to stand for the freedom of the human mind and to carry the torch of truth."  Franklin D. Roosevelt

R. Kyle, April 29, 2017 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Cozened Book Launch

Nicole Givens Kurtz has a new novel out called Cozened. This is her second book in the futuristic detective noir series.


There is a raffle to go with the launch hosted at Rafflecopter's website.  at Rafflecopter's giveaway website.

It can be purchased at either Amazon (http://amzn.to/2gm7ijc) or from the publisher (http://mochamemoirspress.com/cozened). 

Here is Nicole's bio:  NICOLE GIVENS KURTZ is the published author of the futuristic thriller series, Cybil Lewis. She also writes horror and dark fantasy. Her novels have been named as finalists in the Fresh Voices in Science Fiction, EPPIE in Science Fiction, and Dream Realm Awards in science fiction. Nicole’s short stories have earned an Honorable Mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest, and have appeared in numerous anthologies and publications.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

GUEST BLOGGER: Nobody Gives a Damn that You Wrote a Book – Unless You Give Them a Reason


By MH Bonham
Author of 35+ books, Publisher of Sky Warrior Book Publishing, LLC
Visit Sky Warrior Books at: Sky Warrior Book Publishing, L.L.C.

Everyone wants to write a book.  Some folks have actually written books.  Some have gotten their books published, either by themselves, through a small press, or, if they’re exceedingly lucky, through one of the big New York houses.

At this point, many authors are convinced their work is done. The reality is their work is just beginning.

Nobody Cares that You Wrote a Book.  Really.

Nobody gives a damn you wrote a book, except maybe your mom.  Your writing buddies and friends may say they care, but how many of them have actually bought one of your books? The people on the street don’t care. In fact, they are inundated with other things that occupy their attention such as the Internet, movies, video games, and other entertainment, there’s very little time or inclination for them to actually read a book.

When they do buy a book, it’s because they know about the book, or are looking for a book on a particular subject. If your name isn’t J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, chances are they haven’t a clue that you wrote a book they might actually enjoy reading.

Some Facts to Back This Up

The Bureau of Labor Statistics backs me up on this. In 2013, the average person spent a whopping $29.20 on physical books that year, not including sales by book clubs. If you do count the book club sales, the number soars to $32.23. If you look on Amazon, that’s maybe two or three books out of nearly two million. E-books that year fared better than physical books, with the average amount sold being $30.18. That includes everything from the 99 cent books somebody put out, to the big houses selling their e-books at nearly 15 bucks a pop.

If This Didn’t Depress You Enough

If this didn’t depress you enough, you’ll be glad to know that book publishers cut their employees by 18 percent. This means that even the big houses don’t have enough staff to promote your book. Small publishers rely on authors to promote their books.

What You as an Author can do to Buck the Trend

First, consider yourself one of the enlightened. Your book won’t sell without you promoting it, unless it wins the book lottery and becomes a best seller.  Be realistic: you’ve got a far better chance at getting hit by lightning while riding a unicycle on a sunny day.
As an author, promoting your book is paramount.  Yes, writing is very important, and you need to write every day, but promoting is just as important. Take one day’s writing time out of your already busy week and do something to promote your book. The following are no cost ideas that can promote your book better than you think.

How you get people to care about you and your books is to get them aware that you exist. To do this, you have to get your book in front of readers.

Ten No Cost Ideas to Get Your Book in Front of Readers

1.     Create a Facebook page for you and your work. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you better have one. Post about the latest works and status reports about things you’re doing as a writer.
2.     Join promotion groups and announce your book.  One promotion group, in particular, you should join is Goodreads.  Find authors you love and follow them.
3.     Start a blog and post to it regularly. You can talk about anything as a writer. Livejournal and Blogger offer free blog pages.
4.     Offer to do guest posts for other writers on their blogs who have books similar to yours. Offer the writers the ability to guest post on your blog in exchange.
5.     Contact your local library and request that they carry your book. If they won’t order it or can’t purchase it directly, consider donating a copy.
6.      Start an e-newsletter for your fans. Both Constant Contact and MailChimp have free e-newsletters for low numbers of subscribers.
7.     Run a contest which requires sharing your blog or Facebook page in social media to enter.  Try Rafflecopter for this.
8.     Create a small e-book with short stories set in your book’s world and offer it free on Amazon and other e-book venues. Include the first chapter of your book and links where to purchase your book. Post it on Weebly and other places where fans are always looking for new voices.
9.     Volunteer to help out with local book conventions or science fiction conventions. Not only will you get your name known, but you may be able to put books in the hands of those who are bellwethers in the reading community.
10.  Offer to exchange book reviews with other authors. More book reviews means more exposure and more opportunities.

Friday, June 19, 2015

COMMENTARY: Take down the Confederate Flag

My first job was working for the State of Oklahoma's Government Information Service. I got asked a number of interesting questions. One, in particular, sticks in my mind today.  I will do my best to recreate the conversation as faithfully as I can:

Caller:  Do you know that the Confederate flag is flying over the State Capitol?
Me:  Yes, Ma'am, (reaching for a brochure I have on my desk) it's part of the Fourteen Flags Plaza.*
Caller:  I don't think that's right...
Me:  Ma'am, the plaza's there to show the fourteen flags which flew over Oklahoma prior to statehood. The Confederate flag is just one of them...
Caller:  Do you think that's right?
Me:  Ma'am, I can't give my opinion...
Caller:  But, do you think that's right?
Me:  If you're asking me if I approved of slavery, my answer is no.  If you're asking me if I believe we should display our history, I'd want to remind you about some of the other nations whose flags are flying in the plaza. The Cherokees, for example, had slaves. The Spanish had the Inquisition. The French royalty treated their peasants so badly....
Caller:  I think they should remove the Confederate flag.
Me:  Ma'am, if you believe that, you should talk to your State Representative and Senator. The state's certainly spending money to keep them up and you could make suggestions for that money's alternate use....

I've never been one to shirk the unpleasant aspects of history. I liked to think we'd come a long way. After Wednesday's shooting of nine Black congregants during a Bible study, I'm not so sure we have. 

No, I emphatically do not believe this was an attack on Christianity. The shooter's words before he started killing people were:  “I have to do it. You’re raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.”

http://c.o0bg.com/rf/image_960w/Boston/2011-2020/2015/06/18/BostonGlobe.com/EditorialOpinion/Images/0622CHARLESTON.jpg


The Confederate flag, which the attacker firmly embraced, is not just a reminder of our dark and ugly past to some. In the attacker's eyes, it's a rally to race war.

And it's time to take every one of them down.

"Like the Nazi flag, the Confederate battle flag has come to symbolize to large portions of the public extremely destructive attempts to promote racism. And in both cases, extremists use them as the potent symbols of racism they are in order to rally like minded extremists. As such, it does not deserve to be flown over any public building in these United States." David Kinne

Please note the Fourteen Flags display was removed from the Oklahoma Capitol grounds in 1988. The Oklahoma State Fairgrounds still has the Fourteen Flags Plaza, which shows the fourteen flags: 

http://newsok.com/14-flags-plaza-shows-state-history/article/2551499

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, June 2015