Thursday, September 26, 2013

Checking in at the shelter

You might remember I’ve pledged to give proceeds from “On the Scent” to sponsor at-risk animals at Greenville County Animal Care Services. I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, but…yeah, life has kept me a little busy lately. But I feel it’s important to keep this out there, so here’s an update on my local shelter.

It’s actually been a rough summer for the staff at GCACS. In June, and again in July, GCACS rescued approximately 300 dogs from two separate puppy mills, putting a strain on the resources, staff, and space it had available. These two incidents happened before my book ever came out, so I can’t say I used any of my book’s royalties to make donations. But I did make donations. In fact, my friend and I put our funds together and bought a carload of pet food to donate to the shelter during its special time of need. Actually, we’ve done this kind of thing before and make regular pet food donations to them and other groups, but this particular load was quite large thanks to Cindy’s mad couponing skills and penchant for shopping clearance. I wish I had a photo I could post to show all of the pet food we donated, but my friend misunderstood me and rather than snapping a cell phone picture of it all in the buggy, she took several photos of it all laid out...on a camera I can't access. So, just imagine a buggy slammed full of pet food, and you'll get the idea. I mean that buggy was packed. Even the rack underneath it was full!

I’m happy to say the shelter held a huge adoption event and most of the animals taken in from the puppy mills have since gone to safe, loving homes. Unfortunately, there were lots of animals to take their place who still need homes.
The Greys (picture was pulled from email)

The truth is, I haven’t yet received my first royalty check from “On the Scent,” but I have sponsored three cats on the urgent list since the book released. They were called “The Greys” because of their color, and they had a rescue group willing to take them if someone could sponsor the fees. The e-mail I received read “Today is the last day for The Greys boys, located at GCACS…. They have rescue if I can get any anyone willing to donate towards their $35 rescue fee each!” I was immediately reminded of my beloved gray kitty. I thought, “What if no one had saved her from this list and I’d never been able to adopt her?” My life would be so much more void of love and laughter. So I dug out my purse and paid the sponsorship fees for these three gorgeous boys. I was reassured later they had been safely removed from the shelter and were in the care of a very kind lady. And I ate very little for about two weeks until I got paid again, but you know what? By doing so, I had saved three lives. Three!

I asked my aforementioned friend what she wanted to do on her birthday and she said she’d like for me to go to the shelter with her and volunteer. So I took the day off work, and away we went. Truth? I don’t actually go to the shelter and volunteer much because I am allergic to cats and dogs. The few times I’ve gone to the shelter and volunteered, I’ve spent the next few days in bed sick — which is exactly what happened again after Sept. 6. But you know what? I’m glad I did it. I met and helped clean cages for some adorable kitties, including a little gray one I really wanted to take home. Um, I might have a weakness for gray kitties, but how could I not after meeting my best-friend-in-fur, 
the most awesome cat ever, Dusti?
Me and the lil gray kitty I wanted to adopt.

So this will serve as my first update regarding the proceeds of my book, “On the Scent.” And before you think I write this to brag about the donations I’ve made, whoa, hold up, mister! No bragging intended. In fact, quite the opposite. I wish I could donate a heck of a lot more than I have. The email I mentioned above — the one about “The Greys”? I get emails like that almost every day, and I’m often not able to help. I fear too many animals do not make rescue and end up...I don't even want to think about it.

So the reason I’m writing this is to show you the need and beg you to help. Oh, you don’t have to buy “On the Scent” to make a difference, although it would be nice for me and my local shelter. Trust me. There are shelters in every town, in every state, in every country in desperate need of donations, volunteers, and prayers. It's not that hard. A few hours of your time once a week or month. Clip some coupons and buy a few extra cans of pet food on sale. It won't break your budget. Donate newspapers and old toys. Most shelters post a "needs" list on their websites. It's not hard to find out with a simple phone call either.

Won’t you consider doing something? Even a visit to the shelter to pet dogs or cats gives them some much-needed attention, and it might make you feel better too.

Surely you can at least do that. Can’t you?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Keeping up...or trying to.

I've been seriously slack in updating this blog because, as you can probably relate, life always has a funny way of throwing things at us that disrupt our routines. In my case, my father had heart surgery Sept. 16 that we've been preparing for and then recovering from. My father is 81, so my brothers and I have been very worried about how he'd handle the surgery. Thankfully he did great, although his recovery has been a little rougher than we'd expected. We've also had lots of visitors, including my niece and nephew who drove up from Florida for a few days to check on their Papa John. Everyone has been great at bringing us food and calling to check on him. We are very blessed to have such incredible friends, neighbors, and family.

I am also blessed to have a great father. When my mother passed away from cancer, I was 12, and my dad took an early retirement from the police force to finish raising me on his own. As the youngest, it was very hard for me, especially since I was the only girl. I'm in my late 30s now, still single, and while I'd much rather have my own place, my cat and I live in my childhood home with my father. I don't mind it so much, since I like being near him in case he needs anything. I figure I owe him for all that he's sacrificed for me, after all, and he's not very demanding.

I took the past week off to help look after my father as he recovered, and I intended to use any time while he was resting to write and stay updated with my friends on social media. That was the plan, anyway. The reality was that I was so busy, I hardly checked my email all week, let alone turned the computer on for something as time-consuming as writing! I'll be returning to the day job Monday and getting back into somewhat of a routine (I hope), and God willing, my dad will continue to get healthier with each passing day.

I also hope to soon be able to share news about the second book in my series from Harper Impulse. You know, I might even be able to do a cover reveal very soon if my editor lets me. Fingers crossed. In the meantime, it's back to finishing up book three whenever I can find spare time. I'm having a blast writing it, so I'm eager to return to the characters and universe I'm creating.

Wish me luck, but first, me and this pretty girl are gonna catch up on our beauty sleep. We're both pooped!

Dusti catches a cat nap.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My Dragoncon 2013 diary

Tinkerbell and Superman cosplayers!
I’m baaaack!

Back from Dragoncon, incredibly exhausted and very, very poor now. Well, I was poor before, but how could I not go to Dragoncon?!?

First things first, because I know 90 percent of the people looking at Dragoncon posts just want to see pictures. You can view my gallery of pictures on my Facebook page, and here's a link to view them even if we're not friends!


This year was a lot of fun! As I said in my previous post, my niece and her boyfriend met me in Atlanta Thursday for this year’s convention. I reeled in the crazy and don’t think I embarrassed my niece in front of her boyfriend, whom I’d never met before. He actually turned out to be very nice — and seemed as excited as I was to be there. We both wanted to cosplay, but Brittney (the niece) was like uh-uh, no way! Shesh. I don't know where she gets it from.

We started our adventure by meeting for a late lunch at Atlanta’s Chow Baby restaurant, which is kind of a neat place. If you’re ever in Atlanta, check out this fun Asian fusion restaurant. Then we checked into the Sheraton, and whoa mama, what a crowd. I’ve never stayed overnight during Dragoncon — I always drive in one morning and drive home that same night — but my goodness, it was chaos parking and getting checked in due to the sheer crowd of people doing the same! Chaaaos! Our hotel room was very nice. I kind of didn’t want to leave it, it was so nice. But I did, getting in line to grab my Dragoncon badge since I had preregistered and bought a membership this year. I waited for about 30 minutes in between two guys who were debating whether or not Luke and Leia truly could have had an incestuous relationship in “Star Wars” (I’m not even kidding) and a couple of awesome-looking women already dressed as Harry Potter characters.

Welcome to Dragoncon.

After that me and "the kids"(they're 20-somethings and not really kids, but I prefer to call them "the kids") ventured out to a special showing of “Zombieland” at the famous Fox Theater in Atlanta. That theater is amazing! I can’t believe how huge and neat it was inside. Brittney and I decided it would make a great location to film a horror movie in. Just sayin’. If you’re ever in Atlanta, I highly recommend taking the theater’s tour. You won’t be sorry. 

Friday's "Torchwood" panel

Friday morning we got up insanely early — 6:45 a.m., which is unheard of for me — grabbed breakfast, the kids got their badges, and off we went! It was kind of fun
Friday's "Torchwood" panel
having two Dragoncon newbies in tow as it made me feel quite powerful directing them through crowds to the right places. I fear they would have been swallowed up by the crowds or ended up hostages in the hood if I hadn’t been there to lead the way. And Hotlanta earned its name last weekend, let me tell you. Hot. Humid. I roasted in the sun waiting for a few panels and my face is still sunburnt. (Mental note: Take sunscreen next year).

The kids agreed to accompany me to the “Torchwood” panel in our hotel Friday morning, because my niece is all about “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and both Jane Espenson and James Marsters (Buffy alums) were on that panel. Seriously. I think I was a bad (or good?...hmmm) influence, because I would have Buffy marathons with my niece when she was, like, 7, because no one else would watch it with me, and then she started having marathons on her own and she too became a lifelong Buffy/Joss Whedon fanatic. The "Torchwood" panel was great! Eve Myles is very entertaining to listen to in person, and can I just say that Gareth David-Lloyd is way hotter in person than on TV. I seriously had no idea he was so hot. John Barrowman wasn’t at this panel, but he was on my list to stalk later in the day, so it was all good.

Next, we rushed over to the Whedonverse Guest Panel, with Nicholas Brendan and Kristine Sutherland from “Buffy” and Miracle Laurie from “Dollhouse.” This is the panel that convinced my niece to try Dragoncon. It was a lot of fun. Nick was very entertaining and Kristine told some great stories I’d never heard before about the show. After this, we decided to head to the Walk of Fame (autograph area) so the niece could try and meet both of them. Holy cow, that area was packed and we got there right when it opened! My posse was excited by “The Walking Dead” actors in there and ended up meeting Scott Wilson (Hershel) and the actress who played Tonks in “Harry Potter” instead. Young people — they’re so easily distracted from their goals. Meanwhile, I had gone over to see Eve Myles because I needed her autograph for my “Doctor Who” collection. She was awesome. Turns out she’s a major Wonder Woman fan like me, so we bonded over that in the minute or two we chatted. Next, I went over and got in John Barrowman’s line because, of course, I needed his autograph for my “Doctor Who” collection as well. His line was loooooooong, and I mean looooooooooong. When I finally got up to him, he thanked me for my patience in waiting, signed a pic, and that was it. But I had fun chatting with the folks in line with me, which was a novelty because I don't know too many people who watch "Doctor Who" and enjoy it as much as I do. 

Brittney and her boyfriend with Nicholas and Kristine (Buffy)
Me and John Barrowman
After that, we left the Walk of Fame to find the celebrity photo opps, because Brittney and her boyfriend had decided to get a picture with Steven Yeun (Glenn) from “The Walking Dead” but Steven Yeun wasn’t there Friday. They decided to get a picture with Nick and Kristine instead, something that made my niece’s childhood dream come true. Seriously, she was so happy to have met anyone from Buffy. I should get the Coolest Aunt Award for making this happen. Just sayin.’ I got a picture with John Barrowman, which was an experience. He was grabbing people’s boobs, fake humping them, and tipping people back in pictures. I was nervous, but I think my height intimidated him, so he grabbed me for a very tight hug and said, “Quick cuddle!” Then he spanked my behind before the next person came up. Yep, Capt. Jack spanked my bottom. It. Was. Awesome.

We wandered around looking at cosplayers and found food before going to the Avengers Ball/party. This is where I should note that I am not a partier. I hate parties. I don’t drink. Don’t cuss. Don’t smoke. I don’t even dance. Generally, I don't even like to be around people who do these things. I really should wear a sign that reads WEIRD INTROVERTED WRITER. We staked out a spot in the balcony and took pictures of people in costume. We’re wild party animals, I tell ya.

Around midnight, we went back to our room despite the parties raging all over the place. We collapsed exhausted and...slept. 


"Smallville" panel
The next day was much of the same, except me and the kids went our separate ways. I caught the William Shatner panel and “Torchwood” panel with Barrowman and laughed so hard I almost wet my pants. I met Allison Mack of “Smallville,” which was an incredible experience. I know not everyone was a fan of "Smallville," but I LOVED it — especially the last two seasons when they finally started writing Lois correctly. Chloe Sullivan is one of my all-time favorite characters, ever. Allison was very kind and let me fangirl over her for a few minutes. Got her autograph. Then I went to the “True Blood” panel and was a little underwhelmed. Honestly, this panel usually has hot guys on it, but this year, not so much. Skarsgard? Manganiello? Kwanten? Nope, not this year. I actually left early and caught the “Smallville” panel, lucking out and getting a seat on the front row before the room filled up! Tried going to “The Walking Dead” panel Q&A with its cast, but it was full and no seats were left. I never get into this panel, no matter how hard I try! Ugh. Same with the "Supernatural" panel I had planned as a backup. So I went and grabbed something to eat and...then I left, sad that it was already over for me for another year.

It was a fun weekend. Like I said, I don’t party much, so I was all about stalking celebrities. Once again, I totally missed out on all of the writing panels this year, which sucks because Laurell K. Hamilton was there and Sherrilyn Kenyon, not to mention a ton of authors I’ve met on Twitter who I would have liked to have said hello to.

There's always next year.


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